A/N: This story has been published over at under the name Mister Midnight. In case you haven't guessed, we're the same guy. That said this story is AU. Takes place in place of DH, so no epilogue, though this starts off actually worse. Anyway, the title is from a Garth Brooks song of the same name, and I don't own that or Harry Potter. TTFN
He looked at the flashing lights upon the board in front of him. Despite being the late night show, he was never lacking callers. They always wanted to hear some song that would ease their pain. He know they did for him. He flipped on his microphone as the song ended. "Its the midnight hour," he began, "and it's Mister Midnight, alone and blue."
"That was the classic, Your Cheatin' Heart, by Hank Williams tonight," he said, looking at the picture beside his station. The picture was of his brown-eyed love, who had found it in her heart to love another while with him. He forgave her, but not enough to talk to either of them. "I've got a block of the classics up right now before we lead into the time honored tradition of requests here on WKXM, Fully Loaded. WKXM, where music is food for the soul." He lined up the next song, You Give Love A Bad Name, as he took a drink from the glass beside him. It burned on the way down, much like the tears in his eyes.
Closing his eyes, he thought back to the times when he was truly happy. The times when he still have friends that cared for him. Maybe they still did, but right now, he did not care. She went to his best friend while they were together. He did not blame her, he wasn't the greatest boyfriend in the world. But he tried to be, and he did everything that she wanted. She even told him so. That.....that was what hurt the most, that he was everything she wanted, yet she found it in her to give in one night. One night was all it too to destroy nearly a year of a relationship, and nearly nine of friendship.
"You alright Harry?" the technician asked.
"You ask me the same thing every night Chuck," Harry said. He looked over at the older man. He worked behind the scenes, making sure that everything ran smoothly. "And you know the answer."
"No," Chuck said, shaking his head. That was the reason for the show. It was his way of dealing with the pain, and letting others deal with theirs. Chuck had become a surrogate father to Harry, especially since the man was still there for him, even after the fallout with his friends. He had cut himself off from just about everyone, already hearing from them what he did not want to here. That the two of them were happy, why couldn't he be for them? Even Lupin and Tonks were not that supportive of him, saying that it probably wasn't meant to be then. So he left.
It was coming onto five years since he had left them, and a year ago he had bought the radio station. He was making fist over hands of money, now that he revamped the station, something that everyone was happy with. His show had brought many sponsors which had brought them even more shows that would bring in a great deal as well. He had originally been asked to give up the spot by one of the sponsors in favor of one of their own people, and had promptly told them where to shove their money.
Their library of music was expansive, going over most genres with the exception of rap and hip hop. Not that he hated it, just it didn't do anything to ease his pain. The night passed like any other, and he was out the door by three, heading to an empty apartment.
He eased into his one bedroom apartment, knowing that no one where there to wait for him. His bed was as cold as it was the night before and the hundred before that. His answering machine was void of any calls, and his cupboards were just as bare, except for the alcohol that he kept there, though that would be gone soon.. He collapsed against his bed, knowing that the short hours of sleep he got now would only bring him more nightmares. The same emptiness that washed over his flat was the same that betrayed his demeanor. The tears that fell down his cheeks and the whiskey that he drank lulled him to sleep. They were the only warmth he had felt for a long time.
Ritual was the only thing that kept him going these days.
His show was going on two years' worth of programming now. Six years had pasted since he had spoken to any of his old friends. He had moved on, he thought he had at least. He was in a stable relationship, kinda, with a woman he thought he loved. When he wasn't with Cloe, he was at Chuck's laughing with the man and his wife or taking care of the man's children.
"Ready chief?" Harry called into Chuck as he readied a list of songs.
"Five minutes doc," Chuck said with a smile. Harry groaned as he looked over the textbook in front of him. He was returning to school, specifically to obtain a doctorate in the field of psychology. He had managed to finish getting his bachelor's degree and now was finishing up getting his master. Less than a semester of classes, and he would be done, ready to move onto his PhD.
He looked at the picture of his two best friends, hoping that they were able to move on in their lives. He knew he never would see them again, they were too happy without him. If they had wanted him back in their lives, they would have contacted him by now. With a sigh, he switched on his microphone, steeling himself for his own memories to resurfaces, as others worked out theirs.
"Its the midnight hour," Harry said with a smile, letting his voice drop a little bit, "and it's Mister Midnight, alone and blue. Brokenhearted, call up when you don't know what else to do." While he no longer felt the loneliness that he did a year ago, it still was there, more than enough to keep up with his catharsis. "That was the classic 'Round Midnight by the legendary Miles Davis. We're switching gears right now as we're heading down a red dirt road. Brooks and Dunn for you to remember by." He let the song play, leaning back in his chair. Already, callers were lining up and Chuck had begun to screen them, mainly to help fish out the requests and those that actually needed to talk with someone. He was handed a list of songs and began to line them up, falling into a routine once more.
"Four and Three," he said before turning back to his own work. Harry read over his text, vaguely aware of the ending of the song. Harry flipped the caller Four onto the air, and go to back to work
"We've got our first caller on the line." And so the night passed
Near the end of their show, two in the morning, Chuck handed him a caller's line, telling him that she needed to be on the air. He raised his eyebrow, but knew not to question the man's judgment. The song ended, and he flipped on the caller.
"Hi," the voice was shaking, as she had been crying. Harry steeled himself, knew that voice. He knew it blind, dumb, hell he even knew it deaf. It was the same voice that haunted his dreams. The same voice that kept him up for nights at a time, even she was with him. Now more so than before....before... He shook his head, shaking those images from his head as he got back to work.
"Hello darling," Harry said, hoping that she did not recognize his voice. "What seems to be the problem tonight?"
"Its...." her voice dropped off. There was a long pause, as she was steeling herself to say what she needed to, just like Harry was steeling himself against her words. "Harry.....please tell him I'm sorry and I wish that things could be the same." Chuck looked up at Harry, the apology in his eyes. Harry waved him off, turning his back to Chuck. He had enough problems right now, being angry with him was not one he needed to add.
"Darling, what's your name?" Harry managed to ask. He had to keep his voice level. He never expected her to call him again, let alone call him up on the station.
"Hermione," she said, followed by another sniffle. Harry opened his mouth to say something, then the other voice he had not heard in over a year spoke.
"Love, who you talking to?" Ron's voice asked. He heard the soft click of the phone, then the dial tone. Chuck override him and took control of the songs as the next one began to play. Another Hank Williams song echoed through the station as Harry felt the tears begin to fall down his face.
He could not bring himself to finish the show, letting Chuck play his recorded send off. He rarely used it, yet tonight, he could not bring himself to finish. Harry dropped the phone before cradling his head in his hands, trying to fight the tears.
"Harry, you okay?" Chuck asked. '
"Does it look like I'm okay?" Harry asked. "How could you do that to me?" He stood, the anger beginning to swell within him.
"Hey, how the hell was I supposed to know that was her?" Chuck said. Harry glared at the man. Both of them knew that it was done on purpose. "What do you think is wrong?"
"I don't know, I really don't care," Harry said. He grabbed his book and made for the door. The pain began to fill his chest again, the same one that he had fought for over a year to get under control. Leaning against the frame, he looked at the floor. "You know its over between me and Cloe now don't you?"
"I'm sorry, Harry," Chuck said. Harry just nodded and shuffled his way out the door, trying not to think of Hermione's shaky voice or his own breaking heart. "Harry, you know you can call me right? Harry?"
He barely heard his friend as he made his way out of the building. Tossing the textbook into his car, he closed his eyes, knowing that his want for the drink was only as strong as he let it be , and right now, he would not give into another vice. He had done enough of that for the evening.
"Hear that lonesome, whippoorwill, he sounds too blue to fly," He whispered as he drove home. "That means he's lost the will to live, I'm so lonesome I could cry...." He didn't break down until he got to the parking lot by the apartment complex. He was rather proud of himself for that.
Another week passed, and he could not get her off his mind. He never could, looking back. She had invaded every aspect of every part of his life, without him knowing it. He sat in the pub across from his station, trying to finish his notes for the evening.
"Harry?!" He looked up and mentally groaned. Ginny Weasley was standing in the doorway, shocked to see him. She did not look any different from when he last saw her. Her hair was lighter and longer and she wore tighter clothes, but he just attributed that to her personality.
"Ginny," he said. He leaned back in his chair, crossing his arms. She stopped suddenly as if she had been slapped by his words. "How are you?"
"Good, I'm good," she said. She seemed to regain a sense of composure as she walked toward him. "May I sit?" He looked at her for a moment before nodding. She put her bags onto the floor, sitting across from him. "How are you doing?"
"I'm getting by," Harry said, closing his book before placing it in his bag. She nodded, as if expecting him to say something more. She would be waiting a long time.
"Everyone's been wondering about you," she said. He nodded, trying to remain calm. He had tried to move away from that part of his life. He did not need to know about them. He did not want to know how she was doing.
"Can I get you something to drink?" A waitress asked. She was average height, with dark brown hair yet very expressive eyes. And one of the few friends he had managed to make while in exile. She also happened to be Chuck's wife.
"I'd like a red wine," Ginny said before turning back to Harry. The waitress took off before she could take his order, which Ginny seemed angry about. Harry figured it was just something to concentrate on besides the conversation between them that was clearly failing.
"Ginny, she knows what I like," he said with a small smile. Something never changed, and as her face turned as red as her hair, he knew that in part, he did miss them. He missed them all.
"You've been here before?" Ginny asked, happy that conversation seemed to be going. He smiled her as the waitress walked back.
"A red wine for you, miss," the waitress said. A glass of cold milk was placed in front of Harry for him, and he gave her a small smile.
"Thank you Shirley," he said. "Tell me how are the boys?"
"Dying for you to see them again, little Tommy's got a new trick to show you," she said. Her smile seemed to grow at the mention of her sons. "Will you be joining us for dinner any time soon?" There was a hopeful look in her eyes that even Ginny had to realize was there. "Chuck's been feeling pretty bad about what happened. As he should."
"Ginny, I'd like you to meet Shirley Andre," Harry said, motioning toward the waitress. "Shirley, a friend from before, Ginerva Weasley." At the mention of the name, Shirley's eyes became slightly less bright, just like Harry thought they would be.
"Pleasure meeting you," Shirley said. Before Ginny could get a response off, she spoke again, much like Harry thought she would. "I really must be going, please talk to Chuck. He really is sorry." Harry nodded as he turned back to Ginny, losing the grin upon his face.
"Well she wasn't very nice," Ginny said, crossing her arms in a pout.
"No, she's actually one of the nicest people I've ever known, wouldn't hurt a fly," Harry said. He let the words hang in the air, knowing that they couldn't hurt anymore with what followed. "But if you hurt one of those she considers hers....let me just say that you have nothing on her anger." Harry laughed lightly at Ginny's expression. She glared at him, and looked ready to explode at him. He stopped laughing and returned the glare at him. "You start yelling, and you sure as hell won't get another word out of me. I've been through hell because of you and yours, and not going back through it." He stood and took his bag with him. "You want answers, control that bloody temper of yours, otherwise you're getting nothing from me." He left, his anger getting the better of him, as he headed across the street to the station. If he had stayed, he might had seen the perplexed look upon the brunette's face as she sat down across from Ginny.
It was now officially a month, three days, eight hours, and twenty-three minutes since he had received Hermione's phone call. Not that he wasn't counting. He hadn't broken yet, his vice was still under control. Though, if Harry wanted to admit it, it was mainly because of Chuck and Shirley. He had not been allowed to go back to his empty apartment and was currently spending his evenings with them, much to the delight of Tommy and Kevin, her two sons. Her youngest, Ashley, was still to young to play with them, yet loved his company just the same.
His ride to the university took a bit more each day, but he could not say that he didn't feel better spending more time with them. Today however, he was spending the day going over his notes for his assessment coming up. The oral examine was what he thought was going to kill him, as his thesis was done well enough to raise his chances by quite a bit.
"I was surprised when Ginny told me that you were here." He did not look up to the owner of the voice; he knew who the owner was without looking. She had haunted his memories more than one lonely evening.
"I'm surprised you are even talking to me," he said. Marking a statement on defense mechanisms, began to read over it again as she sat down across from him. Denial and intellectualization were two of his personal favorites. He used them on a daily basis. Like right now.
"Look Harry, I'm-" He held up his hand, asking her to stop.
"I've been through a long, long couple of years Hermione," he said. He looked at her, realizing that she was trying to hold back her own tears. "It's taken me a long time to accept that I was abandoned by my two closest friends for each other, and then the people I considered my family. But I've accepted it." He went back to his textbook, trying to concentrate on his work. "Getting over it however hasn't happen nor will it happen in the immediate future."
"Harry, we didn't mean to push you away," she said. He didn't want to hear about it; he wasn't ready for to hear her talk about their relationship.
"How is Ron?" Harry asked, changing the subject. He was slightly surprised to see her stiffen at the mention of Ron's name. Though he could not help but cheer for himself, he did not let her notice that.
"He's fine, so are the rest of the Weasley's," Hermione said. Harry nodded, before removing a newspaper from his bag. "Harry, you are not really being the politest of company." She sounded exasperated, as if she knew this was coming.
"I apologize then, but I was not expecting you to invite yourself to my table," he said. He opened and began to read the sports. "I'm dealing it with the same way I've dealt with the other problems in my life Hermione. Especially after Hogwarts." She did not know how true and painful those words were. He doubted she ever would.
"And how's that?" she asked. "Ignore them Harry?" He flipped the page, wondering if his station had made the paper again. "That's no way to go through life."
"Neither is finding out that the two people you considered more than family were going at each other behind your back," Harry said without emotion. He took a deep breath trying to control everything he was feeling. "What was it that you really wanted from Hermione? Your life must have been going well if you didn't feel it was necessary for you to contact me."
"Look, I'm sorry about that, its just that Ron thought it would be a good idea to let you contact us first when you were okay with it," Hermione said in one breath. He raised an eyebrow, knowing that was not all of it. "And as for my reason for being here, I wanted to talk to my best friend." Harry scoffed at this, rolling his eyes. That wasn't everything either.
"Hermione you've hardly been a friend to me these past years," he said. "I've had too many problems that you know nothing about. I'm too different of a person and so are you. You've proven that to me already." He glared at her, to which she only returned his glare. They were like that for a while until she broke first, and he broke with her. It hurt him worse to see her cry.
"I'm trying to make amends Harry, why won't you let me?" Hermione asked. The tears that she had been trying to fight back now where falling down her face.
"Because I can't," Harry yelled at her. He left, the anger becoming too much for him to take. He couldn't handle it anymore. He left the restaurant, heading right instead of toward the station like he always did. He couldn't do it today. He couldn't be the man that everyone spoke their problems to; not today, not right now.